When craving Chinese style barbecue meats there are two main options across the Lower Mainland. Two, that pull out ahead as the ones to visit. And if Richmond is too far of a drive out, Chinatown is the one to head towards.
From the exterior you wouldn’t think this is a restaurant, if not for reading the name and noting all the signs out front. You walk in and are greeted by an additional all glass facade. A stunning evergreen frame with gold lettering and red characters, illuminated by multiple glowing yellow lights. It all stands out against the black and white checkered floor, the green booths with red chairs, and the floral table tops stacked up for non-use. The walls speak to the restaurant’s history and authenticity, displaying a multitude of black and white portraits and Chinese paint brush paintings of waterways and landscape. I wish I knew about the decor sooner, as it would have gotten me down here earlier. But alas, all I could do now was appreciate what I may get to experience one day. Instead I shifted my attention to the glistening pieces of meat that hung in their internal window.
The set up is much like all the other Chinese BBQ places in the vicinity, but a lot more well maintained. It is a shame that this isn’t the view from the store front. I’d imagine they would get a lot more attention if that were the case. A showcase like this I would lure you in and close, as you watch meat juices and savoury oils drip and pool in a tray underneath.
You order off of their red and white menu, kept in place under the glass top of a table. A collection of dishes featuring their prized barbecue, served along side rice or now noodles.
Decor aside, the meat was less impressive. Maybe it was because by the time I got to it, it needed to be reheated. Or maybe because the pieces I got were not the best cuts. But overall I found myself thinking it dry and fatty. The duck was bland, which had me reaching for plum sauce. But there wasn’t any included, which meant I had to settle for Thai sweet chilli. And let me tell you, it isn’t the same. Similarly, the pork belly fell short of my expectations. There was more fat than meat. The skin lost its crunch, and the flavour of what little meat I got was more salty than smokey, as one would expect. However, having said that I did finish it all sucking meat from bone; because let’s face it, even the worse Chinese bbq is better than no Chinese bbq. And this is my no measure the worse. Good in a pinch, a easy meal on rice.
130 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3
With no end in sight to our new pandemic reality, more and more restaurants are starting to reopen and offer take out. Perfect timing considering families are less excited about cooking for themselves, and then eating together, after spending the entire day together, at home. So when restaurants like Tacomio offers up family share style meals, it is a reprieve. A change in the day to day, and the ability to not have to cook or clean up after.
Their 2 other locations in North Vancouver and at UBC have now shuttered, leaving only their pick up window in Strathcona open and ready for takeout. Today I picked up their “Mexican Family Menu” for, 4 and took it to the beach for a picnic. The set came packed in a box, labelled with a card explaining who packed it and at what time. Each element is individually packed in styrofoam, all for you to uncover and assemble as you see fit.
The sides and toppings are predetermined, but you do have your choice of fillings. Any 3 from a list of 7; of which are 3 different vegetable options, for those who are vegan or vegetarian. These are the roasted cauliflower, roasted bell peppers, and beans.
I had one of the two chicken options, the spiciest of the two: the “a la diabla”, with arbol chilli sauce, shaved cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, and cilantro. All of the above is divided into their own individual containers, so you can further customize, leaving out the chilli sauce completely, so should you choose to. I just wished that the chicken meat was shredded thinly, much like the “carnitas” (pork) was in its sour orange confit. The meat was tender and well flavoured, but surprisingly the filling I liked the most was the roasted cauliflower with its chipotle hummus, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and lemon vinaigrette dressing. A nice firm crunch that added a great texture to my taco, as well as a smokey pronounced flavour.
The uniform toppings for all the orders are a mild, medium, and spicy salsa, refried beans, seasoned rice, pickled vegetables, red onion, and jalapeños; all to be loaded and folded in a corn tortilla. Of which you get plenty, stacked high and kept warm in tin foil. For those sharing there are enough for your party of 4 to have 4-5. If dining alone you can double up on your soft taco shell to ensure it doesn’t break through as you bite in. Each tasted exactly as you filled it. So the fun is in trying each element and combining it fun pairings.
Of this set, I especially liked the sides. The two types of handheld snacks offered a break between tacos and something to crunch on as you crafted. The thick corn chips were a familiar classic, but the frituras were the ones worth noting. They looked like bicycle wheels and ate like crispy foam, in a good way. Light and airy, it was a great texture to chewy through. The taste: slightly salty, but nothing that lingered.
And if you are thirsty, be sure to grab their new vegan horchata made with coconut milk. A tasty and creamy beverage to help wick away the heat, or a treat to end your meal on like dessert.
In short, Tacomio takes the work out of taco Tuesday! Not only was this a delicious meal, but a fun activity all in one. A great way to get the family together, and doing something different. And when we are all stuck indoors all day, this is a great treat any way you look at it.
Tacomio Pick Up Window
1245 Glen Dr, Vancouver, BC V6A 3M8
As we are looking at the end of our second month of quarantine, more and more people are hankering for some normality. Any way to let lose and have fun, while still maintaining a substantial distance from everyone else; in the safety of their own home, of course.
So in comes OK Crush Pad with their virtual wine tastings. As a winery that did not start with a tasting room, it makes sense they be one of the first to take the plunge into cyber space. They are offering wine bundles off of their website with the ability to purchase them, and a tasting with one of their skilled sommeliers. Be aware, there is a minimum purchase of 4 bundles for a tasting for 4, which is also their ideal number of participants. However, they have gone as high as 8 in order to accommodate a wine club. (Side note, how do I join a wine club?).
The bundles feature wine from their three main labels: Free Form, Narrative, and most notably: Haywire. The bundle basically has you choosing between Narrative’s baby bottle of rosé bubbles or Haywire’s. I went with the latter for myself and my other three tasters; as naturally you all must choose the same set. The bundle in question then gets delivered to your front door, touch-less style.
After you decide on your bundle, you pick a day and time, and which platform you wish to teleconference on. Then your sommelier reaches out to confirm the details via email. From there you log on and enjoy a 30 minute session which involves background on OK Crush Pad, education on the wines, a question and answer portion, and light hearted batter as a bonus. Basically you dictate the flow of your session, like you would at a regular, in person tasting, in a physical tasting room. With our group, we logged on with Kelsey, who hosted us from OK Crush Pad‘s bottling room. There, she was able to reference the barrels and concrete jars behind her, as she went through our wine selection pouring bottle into glass.
Although this is the new method of congregating now, and there are many great platforms to consider when trying to convey what you need; I still find it cumbersome. Especially if everyone is on different internet speeds, and you end up talking over one another. Meaning conversations get lost in translation, as five try to discuss one topic, seconds apart.
We began with an overview of OK Crush Pad. A husband and wife run winery that started off as a retirement plan, turned into a romantic dream. With both co-owners coming from a marketing background, they lacked knowledge of the wine industry, so sought the guidance of other established vineyards. The result: a custom crush facility and an opportunity to help other small and establishing vineyards. OK Crush, offers up their equipment and facility to others, wanting their own startup wine dreams. Therefore, what might seem like a “personality disorder” (given their featuring of so many different labels under one banner), actually speaks well to their winery’s concept and theme of bringing people together.
Each aforementioned wine label has been established with a specific concept in mind. I will be highlighting a few facts as we go through the tasting notes.
Haywire’s 2018 Baby Bub is purse sized, and full of red fruits like strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon. It is a fruit driven sparkling that is youthful and fresh, making it ideal for a day on the beach.
Haywire winery is know for their use of concrete tanks. (The very tanks we got a good view of from behind our screens with Kelsey). The belief here is that wine is alive, living, and changing. So why do you want to put it in a dead vessel like stainless steel? On the other hand, they don’t want to add any flavour to the wine, like you would get by using an oak barrel. So for a pure expression of fruit stripped down the team at Haywire went with concrete, giving you more character than what you would get from stainless steel.
In a similar fashion, Narrative wants to accept the fruit as is, on its own. To showcase it by itself and to bottle it on its own. They do this by fermenting and aging it only in concrete and stainless, with the latter retaining the most aromatic and fruit notes. Thus giving it a more complex mouthfeel, as with our 2018 Viognier. In this taster we got oily and viscous stone fruit, pineapple, lemon, and even banana. I am not typically a fan of white wine, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one.
And then there is Free Form, known as their “Nature wines”, which has minimal intervention. They practice a hands off approach with this label, having as little to do with it as possible. Basically it goes into a tank, and then the bottle it is sold in. They further speak to this natural approach by using a ground stone paper label that is made eco-friendly and made without the use of water and paper.
The grapes for the wine itself is grown in Keremoes. The town being better known for ripening red grapes, like the 2017 Cabernet Franc we were tasting today. This red was fermented in clay terracotta pots from Italy. They are a more porous vessel, meaning more oxygen gets into the wine, and it softens in a shorter amount of time. These pots too, don’t contribute to the flavour of the wine.
I am typically a red drinking, but this wasn’t my favourite. It was a smooth wine with lighter tannins. Most memorable for its savoury body, giving you herbs like sage and rosemary.
In short, barring the ability to travel to the Okanagan during these times and most definitely not having the ability to attend a tasting there, this virtual platform is a great alternative. It offered a different way to interact, enjoy wine with friends, and learn something new in the safety of your own home. I highly recommend signing up and having something to look forward to with this one, you are going to buy wine anyways. For how you too can have your very own at home wine tasting, visit the link below.
I have had Turkish bagels once before: during my last visit to Toronto. I was drawn in by their larger shape and their heavily sesame seed encrusted exterior. So when I passed by “Smith’s Bagelry” on a whim, I had to go in. I knew what to expect, having seen their goods featured on a few foodie’s feeds.
You walk into the now empty shop (with the inability to stay and linger), and simply order based on sight. A collection of golden brown baked goods from a showcase kept safe behind plexiglass. Savoury and sweet buns spread across various platforms and plates, well signed with prices and a brief description.
Naturally I had to try their signature sesame bagel. A large loop with an insane amount of sesame seeds that leave you wondering how they stuck them all on there. And best of all, majority of them stayed on as I ate, whereas other bagel brands would loose their seeds to the floor. You can enjoy your twisted bagels with your choice of filling at home, or having them craft it into a sandwich for you here. A feta, tomato, and cucumber option, one with Montreal smoke meat, one with hummus, and even a vegan option with Daiya cheese. I went for the classic choice: the “Aspendos”. Smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, and red onion. All as fragrant and as fresh as the handmade bagel that they sat within.
Next, I went for one of their stuffed bagels. The same dough and sesame coating as the bagel above, but shaped like a stuffed football with your chosen filling. The options were olive and mozzarella, sausage and mozzarella, and Turkish sausage and mozzarella. I went for the familiarity of the former most. This was best when toasted for a crispy exterior and chewy centre. Although for the promise of being “stuffed”, it lacked filling in either of its pointed ends.
I had a better time with the blueberry stuffed soft bagel. A nice cakey dough with a dollop of blueberry at its centre. Just wish there was once agin more filling to enjoy with the dough edge to edge.
Overall a great treat. If you get the chance, it is one that I suggest you try. I definitely prefer their texture to that of any grocery store bagel brand.
191 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1P4
As we move on to week 5 of quarantine and the need to shutter many non essential businesses, many popular restaurants are trying to find some routine in these forever evolving, uncertain times. Dosanko is one such establishment, who have remained open for take out the entire duration thus far. They have been offering limited menus, keeping what little staff they can employe. Slowly adding more to what’s available, which now includes seasonal offerings.
With cherry blossom season in full swing, Donsanko has brought back their Sakura onigri. A pink rice ball with the look and taste of cherry petals, a popular food trend and flavour in Japan during spring. Its photogenic and rare nature was enough to have me making the drive down. And since I was here, I decided to make lunch out of it. The following is from their lunch menu, in lunch-size portions.
The onigris are a great snack option. Hand moulded and kept solid, bundled in wax paper. Each labelled, each with perfectly prepared sushi rice and a strip of seaweed hiding the centre of your choosing.
The cherry blossom did not disappoint, it was as glamourous as I had hoped, and tasted better than I thought it would. It was bright with the freshness of the shisho leaves. There was a little tang, coupled with floral notes from the blossoms. But the real treat was the surprise filling that I discovered upon the first bite in. As much sweet crab meat as they could stuff, while maintaining the iconic triangular rice ball shape. I highly recommend this one.
I also grabbed a couple of their regular onigris, but sadly they didn’t measure up to the above. They were good, but with unseasoned rice and just the protein to carry them through, it fell flat.
The “Spicy Tuna” is lightly seared albacore tuna with their house made spicy mayo and nori bundled up. The fish is very mild, I wanted some more spice in this or some sauce for it. Plus some additional seasoning in the rice and some additional texture to maw through would have been nice. But overall, they do make a nice snack. The rice is served at the perfect temperate, so its best to eat it quick, before it gets too warm and sticky.
The “Zangi” is Chicken Karaage, aka fried chicken with a sesame sauce. Like the fish above, it left like it was lacking something. Additional seasonings and some kick to have the filling stand out against the moist rice. This was quick to fall apart, its flavour better suited in the sandwich below.
The “Tonkatsu & Curry Plate” gave me the bold flavours I was looking for. House made Japanese curry that wasn’t the sweet kind I was expecting. It was savoury and rich, with a slight spice; best balanced by the tangy pickled vegetables served on the side. Each element was perfectly prepared. The pork was tender with crispy breading, it had the right amount of fat for a nice juicy bite. I appreciated the extra ground meat in the sauce, enough for all the steamed rice. You could taste it over the curry that didn’t overpower.
But my favourite out of my order was the “Cheese Crusted Oyako Sandwich” with fried chicken, egg salad, greens and parmigiano reggiano cheese. All the deliciousness above, packed in tight between two buttery sweet slices of toast. Everything in perfect balance of one another. Crispy chicken, tangy sweet mayonnaise, and a luscious egg salad. I could do without the lettuce that became wilted by the time I got to it.
In short everything was so good that I want to go back again soon. Back to support them, and back to try more off of their comfort menu.
566 Powell St Unit #100, Vancouver, BC V6A 1G9
I am under the employment of an essential service. This means while majority of the folks are staying home safe, myself and my coworkers are continuing our day to day to ensure that the world is still running during this precarious time. We aren’t health care workers, but the service we provide ensures that they and everyone else has the resources they need to do what they have to.
So as a blend between my own want to try and my desire to treat them, I travelled down to Chinatown for some Mello doughnuts. I have seen a lot about them online, so figured now was a great time to grab a dozen to share.
Like everywhere else that is still open, seating has been removed to better illustrate that they are not open for dine in, but take out only. Two clerks in masks man the empty store front. One at the counter doling out the doughnuts, the other in the kitchen bringing out a fresh batch.
The counter is still stocked as this is the sort of item you order with your eyes. Their full assortment on display, a few with name cards for easy identification. Plus a few other treats like cookies and cakes to round out their offerings.
I ordered a dozen to fit perfectly in their largest box. One of each and doubles of their two signature stuffed doughnuts for 75 cent to a $1 more. These were the strawberry short cake with fresh cream and the tiramisu with plenty of coca powder. Naturally I didn’t try all of the doughnuts, but I made sure to get a taste of both of these. I liked their doughnuts because they weren’t overly sweet. The three that I had were well done. I prefer them over anything I can get from any fast food chains.
The tiramisu lacked the coffee flavour you’d expect. It reminded me more of a mild chocolate, with a chalky finish due to the powdery topping.
The strawberry was stuffed full with luscious cream and fresh fruit. And the coarse sugar topping added a nice sort of crunch to the fluffy doughy round.
The rest of the doughnuts weren’t stuffed. It got its flavour from the frosting and toppings. Flavours like lemon curd, cookies and cream, vanilla, and a dark chocolate. I tried the green tea. It was the last one left when I stopped by, and I can see why. A wonderfully bright doughnut with plenty of green tea flavour, gently sweetened. This was my favourite of the three for its flavour.
In short, Mello is a great way to grab yourself and others a treat. For the lovers of doughnuts when store bought and fast food ones don’t do. Be warned, they are a cashless store, so debit and credit only.
223 E Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2T9
It has been a month since we all began staying at home, and all non essential businesses have shuttered down. All in order to slow down and possibly suppress the spread of Covid-19. As a result, the restaurant and hospitality industries, built on gathering people and socializing in person, have taken a major hit. Only now are we seeing more solutions and people supporting their favourites food stops, as there doesn’t seem to be a sign of this landscape changing any time soon. So it is uplifting to see restaurants that are open, and looking to different promotions and themes in order to entice diners to take out and eat at home.
This is especially the case for such social dining experience like hot pot. In an era that requires one to distance themselves and not share fluids or air, getting together and sharing a meal that gets cooked out of the same pot for all, seems like out of the question. However this popular Chinese hot pot chain has come up with a promotional special that takes all the work out of preparing a hot pot feast, while allowing yourself to enjoy with immediate family members or yourself. Our group would fall into the latter category, choosing to enjoy our hot pot individually, but together, virtual.
This is a recap of our delivery and hot pot dinner experience. To skip the reading, and learn some tips for a successful hot pot, visit the link below for my latest YouTube video.
With locations in Downtown Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond; Liuyishou has delivery covered. The corresponding location will prepare your meal and pack it all up to go for contactless delivery. They will leave the packages by your door for you to retrieve and sanitize at home. Each order includes a card that has the employee who prepared and packed your meal sign off on their well being; which includes an up to date temperature read. This is to help create peace of mind for those who are weary, but want to support such businesses with a delivery order.
And then, all you need is a heat source, like a portal propane stove, and if you don’t have that, your stove top would work in a pinch. You will also need their special split pot to enjoy two broths at once, here they have you covered. With any order over $100 they throw one in for you, and it includes ladles that will help in the scooping process, once the food is cooked.
The set I enjoyed was the Hot pot combo for 2 for $78. A deal that was reduced from $118. To this I had add-ons, to better round out the meal: rice and a few sides, including fresh fruit for dessert.
The meal is set, but there are a few customizations that you can make. Like which of the two soup bases you want to start off with. I skipped the spicy one and the pork bone for something a little more mild to build on. The “Wild mushroom soup base” came with Chinese herbs. The enoki and sliced shiitake bobbing about was a nice bonus, in addition to the following ingredients that I would boil up with it. For good measure, I also ordered additional mushrooms to drop in and cook.
But my favourite of my two broths was the “Tomato soup base”. What looked like a spicy neon red serving was delicious in rich tomatoey flavour. It added its essence to everything it touched, whereas the other broth barely left a trace.
Worth noting is that, seeing as you are not dining in, you won’t get servers checking in on you, offering to top up your broth. So when doing this for yourself at home, the easiest solution is to add water when your broth boils down, or chicken stock if you have any handy.
Although regardless of the broth, your hot pot meat and vegetables do end up tasting like the sauce you dip them in to anyways. With the set you get your choice of two sauces. But here, I went a little overboard asking for a lot more. The sesame oil, sesame paste, chilli oil, minced garlic, green onion, cilantro, etc. A variety of mixes help to elongate your experience: changing the flavour as needed.
The combo includes 300g of sliced marinated beef and a 300g sliced Australian lamb. Both perfectly packed in the same curls that you would get when dining in. They definitely focus on presentation regardless of takeout, and the use of plastic disposable containers.
Especially seen with their “House special shrimp paste”. A pate of sorts that you ball up and add into the broth to boil up. It is set to look like a thumbs up shape, in honour of Liuyishou’s logo. This was one of my favourite ingredients, a great flavour and an enjoyable texture.
Speaking of texture, the next collection was the “Chongqing hot pot specialities” with House special beef tripe, Beef aorta, and Classic duck blood cube. Being a novice to all three, I was happy to have my virtual lunch mates walk me through the appropriate cooking time for each.
The tripe only needed 7 seconds, much like the thin slices of red meat. The result, a soft and rubbery chew. Although speaking from experience, over cooking it does not make it inedible. The aorta slices looked like calamari rings with a similar texture, a quick dip and it was ready to enjoy like cartilage. The duck blood cube was a little out there for me, a delicacy I couldn’t get my head around. It was a solid formed slice of blood, that didn’t melt after it was boiled. It retained its jello-like jiggle with a similar mouth feel. I have never had anything like it.
More familiar is the vegetable platter that included Potato slices. Potato purposely cut thick so that they wouldn’t disintegrate when left in boiling soup. I passed on the Crown daisy and Chinese cabbage, not enjoying the texture or the taste of wilted leafy greens. I also find that their flavour tends to dominate the broth once added. My favourite was the kelt knots, another great chew and texture to maw through.
On top of other hot pot fixings, you can also order off of Liuyishou’s appetizer menu. I highly recommend their fried rice, if you are like me and enjoy a starchy base with your meat and vegetable hot pot.
In terms of drinks, I highly recommend beer with your hot pot. Like with spicy foods and salty bar offerings, beer is great with dishes that have plenty of flavour. And if you are enjoying a glass, you can also order some edamame to pair with it as a munching snack; and way to catch your second wind. Hot pot is about eating slowly and enjoying the cooking process while socializing. Social distancing provides a challenge, but video conferencing your friends is a great solution.
For more details on how you can order this delicious set for a fun night in, visit the link below and check out our live hot pot party video!
As we move on to week 5 of quarantine, many popular restaurants are finding their footing in this uncertain times. They are starting to open and/or expand their limited take out menus. Doing what they can to stay afloat, and keeping what little staff they can employed.
Water St. Cafe is one such establishment. This Gastown restaurant is keeping things on the brighter side, offering a whimsical Easter brunch box for purchase. $50 feeds 2 across 3 dishes with both a meat and vegetarian option. Both with sausages, French toast, quiche, breakfast potatoes, fruit, croissant, and Easter candy. Online they encourage sharing with the loved ones you are social distancing with, or to be virtually had with others through Zoom meeting, FaceTime chat, or Skype.
The box set is only available for pick up this long weekend Friday April 10 to Monday April 13, and they are asking for all orders to be placed 24 hours in advance, through their website. You select your pick up time, and simply grab and go.
And for those who need the appropriate drink to have with brunch, Water St. Cafe is also offering a mimosa kit to add on. Choose between 3 options with size and quality of bubble differences, to mix with orange juice.
Each purchase is in support of this independently owned and family-run restaurant. (As taken from the press release) “Chef and Co-Owner, Alan Tse, and the team work with local suppliers to bring in the freshest of products to showcase the best that BC has to offer. They strive to achieve what every small restaurant ought to be: committed to quality, service and value that keeps our guests coming back time and time again. Lead by Host and Co-Owner Eli Brennan, they create a true guest connection every visit, and offer the best hospitality experience in Vancouver.”
The following is their “Meat Lovers Easter Brunch Box for 2!” Enjoyed as a picnic in the park. The only hitch it doesn’t come with cutlery and we forgot to check, so ended up eating with out hands.
But thankfully the “Mimosa Kit #3” came with actual glass flutes that were wrapped in a white cloth napkin that we could use when things got messy. Two bottles of Tropicana orange juice and a bottle of “Blue Mountain Brut Gold Label” to self pour and serve. The glassware was a nice added touch, it helped to elevate the setting and experience to where the food was.
The following is what is included in the brunch box to share. Packed individually, it is easy enough to take home and assemble, or in our case, nibble from one box to another.
Two local grilled Pork and Leek Sausages were a nice savoury start. Fragrantly spiced and juicy, it did get greasy sitting in the bottom of the box. It was only second to the four pieces of Ponzu glazed Pork Belly Bacon. The pork belly was caramelized with a nice sweet sauce, not too gristly, sumptuous when paired with a bite of potatoes.
The crispy potatoes came tossed with red and yellow peppers and purple cabbage. It was all dressed in lemon and fresh herbs. They offered a nice side and some freshness to the set. And breakfast isn’t the same without some solid potatoes. I just wish they were cut smaller for easier eating without cutlery or plates.
The asiago, parmesan, and free-run eggs quiche was cut into four slices. This was a fluffy omelette with plenty of eggy flavour, sitting on a flaky pastry crust. I really enjoyed this one.
And to help transition from savoury to sweet the fresh fruit salad was a nice break and palette refresher. A bunch of grapes sitting on cubes of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
For a sweeter finish, the Water St. Cafe large Stuffed French Toast is best shared. A thick chunk of doughy and eggy bread filled with Guava infused mascarpone. I enjoyed it as is, but you can have it with the sides of lemon curd and berry compote they come with for some added sweetness.
And in case you were still hungry, you also get two in house-baked croissants. They were similar in flakiness to the quiche crust, with a wonderfully buttery taste.
And finally, to connect the “Meat Lovers Easter Brunch Box for 2!” They included some Easter grass with two boxes of chocolate eggs and bunnies from Lindt. Not hidden, but just as fun to eat.
In short this is such a great deal for only $50. You get so much. For those interested in ordering their own brunch, or maybe their turkey dinner to feed 1-20, visit the Water St Café’s link below.
The weekends look a lot different now with the landscape of covid-19 and the necessity to stay indoors. I however, am under the employment of an essential service, which forces me to continue my work at this time. Monday to Friday the daily grind with a weekend that you don’t necessarily look forward to, as there isn’t much to do. Luckily, the weather has been better with dry spells, the sun has been punctuating clouds; and it being BC with so much wilderness around, there is plenty to get up to if you have the right vehicle. And this week I did. I was equipped with the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, which I fully maximized my time with.
The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is equipped with the most up to date features in safety. Lane assist, alarms that warn you when anyone seated isn’t buckling up, and beeps that sound when you are moving too fast or too close to the vehicle or stationary obstacle in front of you. The SUV even takes over and moves the wheel for you, if you are approaching anything too close to any of your corners. All the above, the spaciousness of the cabin, and the proper hooks to strap in a car seat, makes this a great vehicle to bring the whole family out for the day, or the weekend. Equipped with 7 seats and all the conveniences built-in for each passenger. A USB port, cup holders, speakers, and temperature control. With all these modern comforts you needn’t be worried about a long drive. This was definitely the case for our 3 hour voyage in each direction, as we set off to Mission, BC for some off-roading.
The drive there was an easy one; lengthy, but with modes like comfort and sport to toggle through, an enjoyable one. And if gas prices weren’t in the 90 cent range, eco mode would be handy as well. But with time to kill and fuel to burn I enjoyed the cruise; stopping to take in green pastures, wild livestock, and snow capped mountains. The weather was even nice enough to open the sun roof and reveal the sky light. We relished all the warmth of the sun we could get; and when the clouds rolled over we stayed warm with individually controlled climate, heated seats (or cooling, for a more refreshing draft), and a heated wheel.
A stop at a corner store yielded small batch jerky and another at a gas station some energy drinks for the journey ahead. It is worth noting that trips like these may be hard without pit stops. Public places and gas stations that once yielded toilets for all, are now closed off for the safety and necessity of everyone. So be warned, you might need to do as I did, and look in the wild to do your business. Learning the hard way, I can prepared with a roll of bamboo toilet paper.
We would stop for scenic views, climbing down hills sides or traversing across ravines to explore. All while staying away from others and socially distancing in the process. And it looks like others and smaller families had the same idea in mind. We would pass other mud crusted SUV, quads, and dirt bikes that were looking to get away from larger crowds with a trip into the forest. A few families even set up camps, with a lot more pairings opting for a couple of chairs and a camp fire by the water side.
Most memorable of our sightings was the gnome we found bolted on to a tree at the side of the road. A find we spotted by chance when stopping to alleviate ourselves. A tiny capsule hung from it, and after unscrewing it we discovered the world of Geocaching. A treasure hunt of sorts, where you download an app and travel to local parks and nature sites to search for such spots. You uncover and sign each, leaving your mark, along with others who have found it before and then after you. Sadly we didn’t have a pen nor did we think to leave ours name. We simply left with a new hobby to pursue instead.
Our goal was to reach Stave Lake, a 8km drive over uneven terrain. Bumpy and rocky ground that included muddy pot holes, snow covered soil, over grown brush and moss, and road side waterfalls. But with the Hyundai Palisade’s terrain modes it made the ride a lot smoother. We would switch between the mud and sand modes to find the best for a less bumpy ride. But sadly we would never reach our destination. Due to the necessity to help the general public separate and stay distance, park boards have since barricaded up parking lots and closed off access to such sites. Our only solution was the explore the outskirts of the lake, getting as close as we could to the ledge and looking down and the turquoise waters we would never touch. Luckily with the Palisade’s easy handling, handy over head and rear view cameras, and side camera that broadcast on the dash when you signal either right or left; we were able to easily pull over and park at multiple clearings for the photos you are seeing throughout.
And thus ended our day trip. We didn’t get the outcome we desired, but now know of a good locale for future camping trips and a great spot to enjoy some water, sun, and fresh air in Mission. Thank you Hyundai for the safe and comfortable ride to and from.
The hospitality and restaurant industry is much different than it was a mere month ago. Covid-19 and the necessity to stay indoors and distance yourself from others has transformed the way we work, play, and eat. And with no sign of it changing its trajectory any time soon, those in the food industry are looking for different ways to market their limited take out or delivery (through an app) business.
Today I was testing out what such platform. A new app that rewards you for taking out at your favourite restaurant, and paying through them. The premise, to earn rewards each time you do, and to redeem them for cash discounts on your next order.
“Perk Hero” markets themselves as a fun way to take out. You simply download and register the app. It is set up like a video game, with the ability to create your profile, customizing it with your own avatar. For every meal you purchase you collect both experience points and coins. The former allows you to level up, which leads to earning more coins to be put towards future meals. As a range, I earned 45 cents when I levelled up to level one. This landmark was achieved through setting up my profile and the initial first purchase, which they call “quests”, in following with the theme.
The app is fairly straight forward, although it did take me a couple of minutes to figure out how to use the credits I had towards my dinner. But paying is as easy as taking a photo (it literally is), and the app does the rest. The payment is taken on your credit card, which you register when you initially sign up.
My only feedback is that it is odd that you have to input your phone number each time you login, and access the app with the “secret code” they text you shortly after. And with them only recently launching, they have very little restaurants that you can choose from. And one barber shoppe, which predicts their growth and the direction in which they plan to take their platform. But the restaurants that they do have are notable stops: “Las Margaritas”, “Chickpea”, “Dunn”, and one of my favourite restaurants to recommend, “House Special”. So naturally the lattermost was the choice here.
We searched up “House Special’s” menu from off the restaurant’s website and ordered takeout by phone. Easy enough to do, but it would be nice to be able to do so through “Perk Hero”, making it a one stop app. Similarly, the phone number and address is listed for the restaurant, but clicking it doesn’t yield any results. Nonetheless we called ahead and made our choices for take out. And by the time we drove down to the restaurant our order was completed and packed up for us to take and go.
We ordered some of their staples, planning on enjoying it in the tailgate of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. We chose based on what sounded good, and less on the ease of eating it in the back seat of a car. They are as follows.
Their spring rolls are vegan and gluten free. Crispy mung bean spring rolls served with nước chấm dipping sauce and a side of Vietnamese herbs. This delivered on expectations with a nice crunch. There was minimal grease, and they were well cut with the tangy and acidic fish sauce. Out of everything we had, this was the easiest to eat and share.
“Uncle Hing’s Chicken Wings” was a little more complicated to eat in the car, with you needing your bare hands to hold on to and eat clean their family recipe’s chicken wings and drumlets. The menu jokingly claims it “originates from the remote village of Houston, Texas”. Free range chicken wings prepared with spicy nước chấm. There was plenty of meat on bone. Flavourful, but I would have liked more sauce, something thick and sticky to coat each wing with.
We naturally ordered the “House Special Pho”, prepared with brisket, beef, beef balls, tripe, tendon, and rice noodles in their “famous” beef broth. Served with a baggie of sprouts and fresh herbs, like you would get in a bowl at your table. The serving was a beautifully light, yet full of beefy goodness; a good mix of textures from all the meat parts listed above. And should you need a bit more spice or zip, you can utilize either the container of chilli sauce or hoisin. The difficulty of tailgating here was the pouring of the soup over the noodles and sliced meats. Though I was happy to have so much extra broth to enjoy just as soup, when the noodles were long gone. Also worth noting is that there was an even ratio of noodle to all the meaty toppings over it.
Out of our two noodle orders, I much more preferred their “Bun Bo Hue” for its moderately spicy lemongrass pork and beef broth soup with pork belly, brisket, Vietnamese ham, thick vermicelli noodles, and Vietnamese coriander. I also preferred the thicker noodles use here, and the ability to slurp them down.
Reading salted egg yolk on the menu, I had to try the “Egg Yolk Pork Ribs & Rice”. Braised pork ribs & eggplant tossed in a salted duck egg yolk; served with rice and pickles. I could have used more egg yolk in the mix; and eggplant was better than the pork, which was on the dry side. Overall, both didn’t have enough flavour or sauce to eat with the bed of rice. But I did enjoy the side of pickles for balance and as a palette refresher.
And we also added two bottles of beers to the order, because it is now legal to take those to go to. We indulged in the Saigon Export, it pairing well with the food and all the fish sauce.
In conclusion, this was another great local restaurant to support during these uncertain times. One of my favourites to recommend for consistent service. So go out there and check them out, or revisit your favourites so that they will still be here when we all come out of this.
1269 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 6K3
What goes in to, on to, and around me. This is me and what I see, all my stories in Vancouver BC! A big mouthed food and lifestyle blogger discovering what the world has to offer through dining, travel, and new experiences. Follow along to see the life of Maggi.